22 Feb 2011

Fiji island hailed as success in fight to save Pacific bird life

8:24 am on 22 February 2011

The Fiji island of Vatu-I-Ra is being hailed as a success story in the fight to save Pacific birds from predators like the Polynesian rat.

The uninhabited two hectare island in the channel between Vanua Levu and Viti Levu is still rat-free five years after eradication efforts began.

Aalbert Rebergen of New Zealand wildlife protection agency Forest and Bird has just visited Vanu-I-Ra and says the healthy population of black noddy and other seabirds is largely thanks to its indigenous owners.

"The owners are participating in what's actually happening on the island and do the active monitoring and if they find a rat or any sign of a rat they are the ones who will take action and put some traps out and actually catch it. It's really putting the responsibility back on the community."

Aalbert Rebergen says there are 32 critically endangered bird species in the Pacific and 46 have become extinct in the past 150 years.